An Erasmus adventure in the throes of a pandemic

Edu Prats, a fourth-year student from the Bachelor's Degree in Advertising and Public Relations, is spending his second semester studying in Rome

In one of the most unusual academic years to date, Edu Prats decided that he would head to Rome as an Erasmus student for the first half of his fourth and final year of the Bachelor's Degree in Advertising and Public Relations. The pandemic delayed his arrival in the Italian capital. But he eventually landed on 1 February, where he will remain until June when it is time to return to Barcelona to graduate alongside his classmates.

From the very first moment, the young student from Sant Cugat knew he wanted to spend the final few months of his degree programme in Rome, and as soon as he arrived, he knew he had made the right choice: “The streets, the people, the weather, the language... It is just a taste of what makes this city so special.” In fact, the health and safety restrictions have allowed him to enjoy the city without the usual crowds. He has taken full advantage by visiting the city's best museums and walking around the old town without having to dodge around groups of tourists taking photographs, keen to immortalise their time in Rome. “I am aware that, under normal circumstances, many of the city centre’s iconic sites would be heaving, so I am taking full advantage of this time to enjoy them as much as possible”, he said.

A different Erasmus experience

Edu's day-to-day routine also involves attending LUMSA (Libera Università degli Studi Maria Ss. Assunta di Roma), where he can obtain the credits he needs to graduate from his degree programme. He has discovered that the Italian academic system is different from the Spanish one, especially in terms of examinations, which are “mainly oral”, and also that the city’s international identity is also reflected at the university. Interestingly, he was initially living in a flat with people from countries like the Gambia, Cyprus, Ireland, India and the Congo. But he recently moved and currently shares a flat with three boys from Andalusia, one from Cape Verde, and a girl from Valencia. “Despite the fact that we can physically attend class, I knew that the campus would be quiet due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Prats, who has still managed to enjoy the Erasmus lifestyle outside the classroom. He says that the restrictions are “more relaxed than in Catalonia”, so he has been able to “maintain his social life and meet people from all over the world”.

He is enjoying his time in Rome so much that the days are flying by, and he has not had time to think about the two stages of his life that are coming to an end: his time as an Erasmus student and the bachelor’s degree. “I don’t have a real plan in mind yet, but I know that as soon as I go back to Spain, I will have to start thinking about my career,” he said. In fact, he will begin a work placement in September and dreams of working somewhere that will help boost his creativity: “One day I would like to become the creative director of an agency, and I wouldn’t mind teaching at a university,” he said. However, for the moment, he still has plenty of time to enjoy the Eternal City. Even in the throes of a pandemic, all roads lead to Rome.